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Porter reserves judgement on 'car crash' election results

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The elections results were a “car crash” for the Conservative party but the causes should be properly examined before conclusions are reached, the Local Government Association chair Lord Porter (Con) has said.

Speaking to LGC a week after the Conservatives lost 1,335 councillors, Lord Porter said many good councillors lost their seats “through no fault of their own”.

But he would not be drawn on the reasons for the collapse in Tory support until local circumstances had been properly examined.

Lord Porter said: “It was a car crash but it’s unsuitable to give a particular reason until we have done a proper post-mortem for it… there are different stories in different places.”

He said the elections were also bad for Labour as a few more gains would have handed the party control of the LGA.

The results of the elections and other electoral changes over the past year means the Tories now hold 38.8% of the weighted politcal balance on the LGA. This is a steep fall from the 43.4% it had in 2018-19 and only 0.8 percentage points ahead of the Labour party.

On the night Tim Warren (Con), the leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council who lost his seat and council to the Liberal Democrats, was scathing in his assessment of the role played by Westminster politicians’ handling of Brexit.

He said: “I think people who were remainers blamed us; people who were leavers blamed us that we haven’t left [Europe].”

“I’m no longer a councillor here so I can say what I like. I urge all MPs to grow up.”

Tees Valley CA mayor Ben Houchen (Con) told LGC he had expected his party’s disastrous local election results and called for Brexit to be delivered.

Speaking to LGC, Mr Houchen also played down Conservative losses nationally and said there were also local factors at play.

“[The results] were to be expected,” he said. “It is fair to say there was an anti-establishment vote; it was about the failure on Brexit and the dissatisfaction with the two main parties over a lack of a resolution.

“But there was a patchwork of results and different drivers and forces.”

Mr Houchen said the results across Tees Valley, where Labour slumped to having no overall control of any of the five councils after decades of dominance, would benefit the work of the combined authority.

He said: “Ultimately [Labour losses] will have a very positive impact [on the combined authority]. I was able to work with Labour leaders but at times it was an uneasy alliance and there was some horse-trading at times.

 “We have a good relationship with emerging leaders and it will be much more relaxed and a much less political atmosphere, helping us to deliver in the future.”

Mr Houchen added that it looked like Labour would lead a minority administration on Stockton-on-Tees BC.

 

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